An exceptional blocker and feared tackler Tom Dusel, at 195 pounds, was a coach’s dream as a two-way player which was the norm for outstanding players of that era. Tom played offensive guard and on defense either defensive end or linebacker. He played football for coach Roger Sweeney 1959-1962, and was recipient of the Ridgewood High School Award for Excellence in Athletics for the Class of 1962 in his senior year.
Recognition among his peers came quickly to Tom. In 1959 he was named to the Ridgewood News All Suburban First Team and in 1960 he was named a First Team guard on the All NNJIL and All Bergen County teams as well as First Team All Suburban .He was also named to the New York Daily News Bergen/Passaic All Star team as the only junior on the squad representing the top 60 high school football players in the Metropolitan area for the 1960 season. Tom would repeat the feat again as a senior for the 1961 season. Also in 1961 Tom was again awarded First Team All NNJIL , First Team All Suburban and First Team All Bergen County laurels as a senior. He was also named All State (all groups) Second Team that same year.
In Tom’s junior year, he helped the Maroons to be named a Group 4 Co-State Champion.
In his senior year Tom served as Co-captain of the 6-2 Maroon football team and had the then rarity of earning 3 varsity letters in the sport at a time when most sophomores in a 3 year high school did not see varsity competition until their junior season.
As a well rounded athlete and fierce competitor, the gridiron wasn’t the only playing field where Tom excelled. He played baseball for three years earning three varsity letters and was team Co-captain in his junior and senior years. He also earned two varsity letters in three years of varsity basketball. In the spring of 1962 Tom and team mate Bob Frame were named Co-recipients of Ridgewood High School’s highest athletic recognition “The RHS Award For Excellence in Athletics” now called the “Dave Vanderbush Award.“
Tom continued his football career at the US Military Academy at West Point playing guard and linebacker for three years before moving to center in his final campaign. He played every down on offense, including long snaps. His favorite collegiate memory was beating arch rival Navy and Roger Staubach. In West Point’s system of rotating captains Tom led the team in a victory over Rutgers and was awarded the game ball.
Upon graduation from West Point Tom was commissioned and trained as an artillery officer. He took his Airborne and Rangers training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was assigned initially to Fort Carson, Colorado as a general’s aide and while there shared a house with some Army dentists leading to an interest in the field.
In November 1968 Tom was assigned to the 1st division in Vietnam as an artillery liaison officer to an infantry battalion. He was responsible for all artillery support (105mm, 155mm Howitzers) for the combat infantry companies within the battalion. The four companies in Tom’s battalion were spread out over a large area of operations and were seeing significant enemy contact.
Tom’s second half of his one year tour was to be spent as a battery commander, but he didn’t get a chance to fulfill that part of his duty assignment. In March of 1969 while under heavy enemy fire (Tom describes it as “All hell broke loose”) an enemy mortar round landed very close to him.
Seriously wounded he was helicoptered out to a field medical unit, then on to hospitals in Vietnam and Japan for the next month. From there it was back to Fort Dix in New Jersey for recuperation. Tom and his wife Addie then lived with his parents in Ridgewood until he was healthy enough to resume active duty.
At Christmas time in 1967 Tom had met an old Ridgewood High School acquaintance, Addie Hamel, while on leave skiing in Colorado. As Tom describes it ‘Things fell into place” and they were Married in June of 1968 before Tom went to Southeast Asia.
After recuperating, Tom was reassigned to the recruiting Command at Presido, San Francisco where he remained until the end of his military career in 1970.
Taking advantage of his time in San Francisco to also pursue his ambitions to go to dental school, Tom was able to complete prerequisite courses for dental school at night and in September of 1970 started dental school at The University of the Pacific in San Francisco.
Graduating in 1974 Tom bought a practice in San Jose and their family made Saratoga, California home for 25 years. Daughter Kimberly was born in 1973 and son Clayton was born in 1975. Tom eventually moved his practice twice and finished his career practicing in Sunnyvale, California.
After retirement, Tom and Addie moved to Monterey, California, but with grandchildren being born and the children living in Colorado, Tom and Addie decided to split time between homes in Castle Pines, Colorado and Scottsdale, Arizona to be closer to their family, also noting “as avid skiers, hikers and golfers these locations work well for us.”
A great example of American exceptionalism as an athlete, patriot and family man, we take great pleasure in inducting Tom Dusel into the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2012.